Retired June 1, 1987.
Lieutenant General Charles J. Cunningham Jr. is commander of 12th Air Force, Tactical Air Command, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas.
General Cunningham was born in 1932. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Florida State University in 1957; a master's degree in business administration from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1965; and a doctorate in public administration from Nova University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1976. The general has completed Squadron Officer School, and Air Command and Staff College, both located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; and the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
He entered the aviation cadet program in June 1954 at Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas, for navigator training. Upon graduation in August 1955, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.
The general entered pilot training in March 1959 and after receiving his wings in April 1960, served as an instructor pilot and standardization pilot at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., until July 1964. He completed Air Command and Staff College in June 1965, and was assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., for F-100 training. In October 1965, General Cunningham transferred to Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he served as a squadron pilot and flight commander.
In June 1967, he joined the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. After completing 100 missions in F-4s over North Vietnam, General Cunningham was assigned to Headquarters 7th Air Force at Tan Son Nhut Air Base as the F-4 combat tactics officer and continued to fly combat missions until June 1968.
Upon returning to the United States, he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., as an air officer commanding and a member of the commandant's staff in the Airmanship Division. In June 1970, he returned to fighter operations at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., where he served as flight commander in the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron and as operations officer of the 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron. General Cunningham returned to Southeast Asia in May 1971, as commander of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Phu Cat Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. After the inactivation of Phu Cat Air Base in November 1971, he was assigned to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where he served as operations officer of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, completing his tour of duty in May 1972, and bringing his total number of combat missions to 366.
Following graduation from the Army War College in June 1973, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as a branch chief and then division chief in the Directorate of Programs and finally as executive assistant to the undersecretary of the Air Force. General Cunningham assumed duties as vice commander, 56th Tactical Fighter Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., in September 1976, and in November 1977, he became commander of the wing.
From July 1979 until January 1980, the general commanded Range Operations and Support, a unit of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Fighter Weapons Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He then become commander of the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, also at Nellis. While commanding the wing, he also served as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School. In November 1980, General Cunningham returned to Air Force headquarters as deputy director for programs and evaluation, and in November 1982, became director for programs and evaluation. He became deputy chief of staff for programs and resources, also at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in July 1984. He assumed his present duties in May 1985.
General Cunningham is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with seven oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster and Air Medal with 27 oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to lieutenant general Aug. 1, 1984, with same date of rank.